Turn It On Again: The Hits (The Tour Edition)


Atlantic, 2007


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Looking to make a quick buck when Genesis reunited for a hugely profitable tour in 2007, Atlantic slapped together a two-disc edition of 1999’s superb Turn It On Again collection, with remastered sound and an altered running order. Problem is, not only was this unnecessary, it proves to be a puzzling listen to casual fans and an infuriating one for longtime fans.

The original Turn It On Again was one disc that simply collected all of the big Genesis hits from 1979-1991, the years that the band was a trio led by Phil Collins, the years that resulted in the band going pop and racking up huge sales and hits left and right. It was a radical departure from the Peter Gabriel-led art-rock days, but despite the synthesizers and what seemed to be simplification of approach, the three remaining guys retained their songwriting ability and arty outer edges and achieved the success they deserved.

So, the new fans who came on board around the time of Duke wanted one disc with all the huge hits (“Misunderstanding,” “Turn It On Again,” “That’s All,” “Invisible Touch,” “Land Of Confusion,” “No Son Of Mine,” “I Can’t Dance,” “Tonight Tonight Tonight,” “Throwing It All Away,” and so forth), and that’s what Turn It On Again delivers. Moreover, when the band reunited to tour in 2007, it was a given they would play pretty much all of those songs anyway, making a “tour edition” of the album unnecessary save for upgraded sound and, perhaps, whatever surprise songs were tossed into the mix.

That is not what this is, though. Disc 1 of this collection is pretty much the original Turn It On Again, but made worse by getting rid of “Follow You, Follow Me,” “Misunderstanding,” the Collins-less “Congo” and the Gabriel-era oddity “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” and moving them to Disc 2. In their place are the truly awful “Illegal Alien,” surely the second-worst Genesis song of all time, and “Tell Me Why,” a solid song from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 We Can’t Dance. “Tonight Tonight Tonight” is thankfully presented in its full-length version instead of the more popular single edit, although “Abacab” remains in edited form, not that many people will care.

The second disc has those aforementioned songs plus “Duchess” and “Afterglow,” which were played on the tour and are necessary to tell the story of this era of the band. But then…it gets weird. To round out the collection, Atlantic evidently decided to round up every old Genesis single and then have a blindfolded intern pick a bunch of songs from the band’s back catalog. Oh, and they forget to add “Ripples,” which was played on the tour and is one of the best Collins-era songs ever.

You may think I’m joking. Consider: The second disc includes “Keep It Dark” and “Man On The Corner” from Abacab. The latter one could understand, but “Keep It Dark” does not need anthologizing in any capacity. “Paperlate” from the 3x3 EP is here too. “Many Too Many” makes an appearance from …and then there were three, and don’t ask me why. I could see why “Your Own Special Way” from Wind And Wuthering is here, but why “A Trick Of The Tail” from the album of the same name over “Ripples” or “Entangled?”

Oh, it gets better. Two songs from the three-song 1977 Spot The Pigeon EP show up, the moody story-song “Inside and Out” and the very goofy, very British “Pigeons,” songs that only true fans know about from purchasing box sets or following the band back in the late ‘70s. To close the disc, two Gabriel-era singles are included, “Counting Out Time” (from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway) and “Happy The Man” (from the Nursery Cryme sessions, never released on an album). In keeping with the theme of ineptitude, “In The Cage” from Lamb is not here, even though Collins sings the hell out of it on the tour; it is one of the few Gabriel-era songs that survived, and rightly so. Foxtrot and Nursery Cryme are overlooked completely, but “The Knife” (from 1970’s Trespass) is here as a reminder of the band’s very early days on Trespass, and it is so different and raw and cool from, say, “In Too Deep” that casual listeners will think it’s a completely different band.

In a way, it was, but the far better triple-disc Platinum Collection was much more evolved in telling a story (albeit in reverse order) and presenting the songs that all fans of the band could agree on, for the most part, as being representative. If you’re looking for an overview of all Genesis, that’s the place to start. If you only want the big radio hits from the Pop Years, stick with the original single-disc Turn It On Again, and if you want the actual tour edition, locate Live Over Europe or the When In Rome DVD.

Put simply, there is no need for a haphazard collection that appeals to nobody in the Genesis catalog. The wonderful original albums, the two Archive box sets, and the aforementioned collections do the job nicely. This is just an attempt to cash in during a lucrative tour, and Atlantic should have known better than to treat a venerated catalog of music with such disdain…and for thinking anybody ever needed to hear “Illegal Alien” again.

Rating: D+

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